Sweden – Brazil
This was the second fixture of the Danish Football Association’s centenary tournament. Two days earlier, Sweden had been thrashed 6-0 by the hosts, though the floodgates had only opened after Sweden captain Glenn Hysén had left the pitch six minutes prior to half time. Despite being a goal down at this stage, they had been the better side. In order to avoid finishing bottom of the round robin table, they needed to defeat Brazil. The visitors would feature here in their first of three medio June matches on European soil. The first two were in this centenary tournament, with hosts Denmark to come two days later, and they would then travel on to face Switzerland. Subsequently, they’d return back home; Brazil were in 1989 the Copa América host nation. They’d open the South American championship against Venezuela on July 1.
Sweden were without a number of their regulars. Hysén had gone back to Italy, where his Fiorentina would be playing league football at the weekend. Two further Italy based players in midfielders Robert Prytz and Glenn Strömberg were missing, and so too was Benfica bound starlet Jonas Thern, yet the possession of Malmö, who had made a second half substitute appearance in the drubbing two days earlier, and since picked up an injury. Further absentees were Ajax centre back Peter Larsson and strikers Hans Holmqvist, Stefan Pettersson and Johnny Ekström.
This would give the opportunity to try out fringe players such as central defender Peter Lönn and full-back Dennis Schiller, whereas the talented Stefan Rehn got a starting chance in central midfield alongside another player of some promise in Klas Ingesson. They were 22 and 20 years of age respectively. Anders Limpar, who had played for his Swiss club team Young Boys in midweek, was back in the squad, and would be starting on the right hand side of midfield, with regular Joakim Nilsson again taking to the left hand side. Domestic based forward Jan Hellström would partner Benfica ace Mats Magnusson up front.
As for the ‘away’ team, they had just arrived in Europe, and came across the Atlantic Ocean following a sound 4-0 win against a Portugal selection in a match to commemorate their own FA’s 75 years of existence. Surely, the Portuguese had had a few absentees for that match, but that went for the Brazilians too, who had featured an eleven made up of predominantly home based players. Exceptions had been Marseille’s fine centre-half Mozer and the two Benfica players Ricardo Gomes and Valdo. Whereas the former was back with his French club side, the two Benfica men were still in the squad. In addition to another Portugal based man, left-sided defender Branco, who had been a substitute against the Portuguese, they were the only foreign legionnaires in this starting line-up for the Latin Americans. Seven of the players who had started against Portugal would take to kick-off here on neutral ground in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, with right-back Paulo Roberto, central defender André Cruz, said Branco and wide left midfield man Careca II the newcomers.
The match took place in late afternoon, with the bright Scandinavian summer making floodlights surplus to requirements. Conditions seemed perfect indeed. The visitors, yet something of an unknown quantity on European soil with the absence of such aces as Mozer and centre-back colleague Julio Cesar, full-backs Jorginho (injured) and Mazinho, midfielders Dunga and Alemão, as well as strikers Careca, Romário, Müller and Bebeto, had felt confident based on the words of manager Lazaroni in the press conference the preceding day. Asked whether he saw Denmark as a big threat following their annihilation of Sweden, he had replied confidently that he thought the team he had brought would be strong enough to win the mini tournament. It remained to be seen.
Ten of the 15 players used by Brazil in this particular fixture would feature in their 22 man strong Copa América squad.
Referee was experienced 47 year old Dane Lund-Sørensen, who was making his 16th international appearance since his debut way back in a 1975 qualifier for the ’76 European Championships between Belgium and Iceland. Six years previously, he had been in charge of another Sweden v Brazil friendly: a 3-3 draw played out in the Swedish west coast city of Gothenburg. Sweden ‘keeper Ravelli was the only survivor from this meeting.
These two’s most famous head to heads had come in the 50s, when Brazil had thrashed the Scandinavians by 7-1 in the 1950 World Cup on home soil, and not least the ’58 final in Stockholm, where Brazil had gone on to win their first ever World Cup, beating the host nation 5-2 in the final, with a 17 year young Pelé having introduced himself to a global audience for the first time.
|1 Thomas Ravelli||29||IFK Göteborg|
|2 Roland Nilsson (c)||25||IFK Göteborg|
|3 Peter Lönn||27||IFK Norrköping|
|4 Roger Ljung||23||Malmö FF|
|5 Dennis Schiller||sub h-t||24||Lillestrøm|
|6 Anders Limpar||60′||23||Young Boys|
|7 Klas Ingesson||20||IFK Göteborg|
|8 Stefan Rehn||22||Djurgården|
|9 Joakim Nilsson||23||Malmö FF|
|10 Jan Hellström||29||IFK Norrköping|
|11 Mats Magnusson||sub 69′||25||Benfica|
|14 Niclas Larsson||on h-t||23||Malmö FF|
|16 Mats Gren||on 69′||25||Grasshoppers|
|2 Paulo Roberto||26||Vasco|
|3 André Cruz||20||Ponte Preta|
|4 Ricardo Gomes (c)||24||Benfica|
|6 Bernardo||24||São Paulo|
|8 Silas||sub 73′||23||Sporting Lisboa|
|9 Charles||39′, sub h-t||21||Bahia|
|10 Edu Manga||sub h-t||22||Palmeiras|
|11 Careca II||sub 69′||20||Cruzeiro|
|13 Cristóvão||on h-t||30||Grêmio|
|14 Geovani||on h-t||25||Vasco|
|15 Bismarck||on 73′||19||Vasco|
|16 Gérson||on 69′||23||Atlético Mineiro|
There were few surprises about Olle Nordin’s 4-4-2. Their play was at times based on long balls in the direction of the two strikers, of whom Magnusson was looking to win in the air, with Hellström seeking to feed on flick-ons. As you’d expect, there was also an element of wing play, and in particular from the left, where J Nilsson was prepared to take on his full-back. Swedish full-back contributions would not be rife, and it seemed like captain R Nilsson was more attacking than his counterpart Schiller. In midfield, 20 year old Ingesson would be prone to making runs from the deep and into Brazilian territory. At the back, they were operating with a square line, with Lönn the right-sided and Ljung the left-sided of the two centre-halfs, both operating according to zonal marking principles.
At half-time, Larsson replaces left-back Schiller directly. Later in the half, Gren’s a straight swap with Magnusson up front, though the second and final Swedish substitute will be inclined to seeking right-sided forward areas rather than stick to the centre.
Brazil had started in an asymmetric 4-4-2 against Portugal eight days earlier, and were clearly at 4-5-1 from kick-off here in Copenhagen. This would, however, change very soon, when they would abandon Careca II as a left-sided player and rather move him up top to partner Charles. Still, there’s quite a few unconventional contributions from Careca, who seems somewhat positionally unaware.
The Brazilians wish to let both full-backs attack, and along the right, there are some useful combinations involving Paulo Robert, Valdo and inside right half Silas. Down the opposite flank, Branco will have acres of space to run into once Careca moves up front, and inside left half Edu seeks to orientate himself towards this side. Edu is the most left-sided of the midfield four after the switch in formation, which occurs with less than ten minutes on the clock. However, Edu can not be viewed as an outright left-sided midfielder. Bernardo is the deep central midfielder, wishing to pick the ball off his central defenders and feed either Silas or Edu ahead of him. He’s got a tall frame, has Bernardo, and appears to be an awkward opponent. Charles up front does not have much time to sit isolated, yet Careca II’s inability to stick to a certain position still leaves Charles without a companion.
At the heart of their defence, Brazil have captain Ricardo Gomes playing as libero, with youngster André Cruz mainly going into battle with Magnusson.
Brazil make two half-time changes: Striker Charles is replaced like for like with Cristóvão, whereas Geovani comes on in midfield for Edu. The Brazilian formation appears more like a Telê Santana-esque 4-2-2-2 after the break, with Bernardo and Geovani in the centre and more defensive than Valdo and Silas, who both appear in wide positions, and who both move from right to left and back again. Cristóvão and Careca II make up the forward pairing, whereas Gérson comes on for the latter during the second half. Careca II had always positioned himself as the left-sided striker, but when Gérson comes on, it is Cristóvão who goes to the left, Gérson positioning himself as the right-sided striker. Bismarck, the final Brazilian substitute, comes on in Silas’ role, though by this time Valdo has more or less cemented his spot on the right wing, so Bismarck will see the game out more or less as a left winger.
Map after all six substitutes have been introduced:
The Copenhagen summer evening is bright; there appears to be next to no wind. Conditions should be ideal for a fine game of football. The visitors are awarded the honour of kicking off, and they set the match in motion through young forward Charles and central midfielder Edu.
Shape of Brazil
It becomes evident from the word ‘go’ that Brazil have come in a 4-5-1 formation, where their players appear exceptionally true to their designated positions. This becomes particularly visible in their midfield, where Bernardo is the most obvious anchor man you will see, operating his tall frame just ahead of the two central-defenders, where both the young André Cruz and captain Ricardo Gomes are left-footed. Bernardo, who had played well in the 4-0 trouncing of Portugal just over a week earlier, had two further players with him in central midfield: Silas was ahead of him to the right, with Edu Manga ahead and to his left. Whereas Bernardo’s task with Brazil in possession at the back was to collect the ball from the central-defenders, Silas and Edu would carry an identical kind of responsibility further up in the pitch. Silas would seek to bring either right wing man Valdo or even right wing back Paulo Roberto into play; together this trio would form an interesting right hand side for the Latin Americans.
Along the left, Edu has somewhat different motives, not necessarily looking to bring left-sided midfielder Careca II into play, but rather the attacking Branco, who is a more than willing customer from his left-back position. Careca II, on the other hand, at times appears a little bewildered when it comes to positional sense: Whereas clearly being the left-sided man in a midfield five from kick-off, he will even orientate himself towards a left-sided forward role, and in the process abandon the streamlined outlay of the five man Brazilian midfield.
Sweden, who could easily be refered to as the ‘home’ side in this clash, despite it taking place on neutral ground in Denmark (the Danish capital is a mere 15 minutes’ ferry ride away from the Swedish port town of Helsingborg), may have been without some important performers, but manager Nordin was nevertheless true to shape and formation. Their 4-4-2 comes with Nordic values, where the principles of zonal marking at the back remain intact. Both central defenders operate in line to give their back four a square look, and there is freedom for either full-back to cross the halfway line and participate inside opposition territory, though only one at a time. Thus, R Nilsson and Schiller, right and left respectively, work as a pair of pistons, with one holding back and one darting forward. Nilsson is a capable, dependable defender, and on his 24th international appearance, he is tonight carrying the captain’s armband for the first time.
Schiller, plying his daily trade across the border in Norway with one of the leading sides there, Lillestrøm, is at times seen as something of a liability defensively, though very capable of involvement inside the opposition half. First half progress, with Schiller up against such a teasing trio of players in Paulo Roberto, Silas and Valdo, will make for interesting observation. With regular left-back Ljung featuring in the centre of defence, Nordin rates Schiller as the top starting alternative.
Composition of Sweden’s midfield
Brazil seek to involve a lot of players in each and every build-up, and so their progress into opposition half is of clearly slower nature than that of the hosts, where the ball’s supposed to find its way closer to Acácio’s penalty area through the means of fewer touches in midfield. Having said that, Sweden are far from short in creative supply among their midfield four, where in particular Rehn, making a fifth international appearance, from the centre can play a bit. He is more than willing to come looking for the ball from members of his back four, though this is hardly the prefered Swedish recipe for instigating attacks. If anything, you’d look to Rehn’s central midfield compatriot, the 20 year young, tall and fair Ingesson, and immediately deem him as the ideal man in a Nordin set-up: He is of lesser skill in possession, but he carries that enthusiasm with him which sees him enter Brazil’s penalty area on waves of adrenaline alone; he thrives on making runs from the deep. ‘Jocke’ Nilsson, the exciting Malmö prospect along their left, is a left winger in the traditional sense: Nilsson is always looking to take his full-back on, get to the byline and deliever a cross for his forwards. On the opposite side, Limpar, a smaller player with the customary low centre of gravity, has something similar about him, though he’s equipped with less speed and a lesser level of directness. Instead, Limpar has great vision, and can play a telling pass for a team mate to run onto. It seems that the four men in the Swedish midfield complement each other well, even if perhaps there’s a sense that they may lack some defensive bite in this department.
Bernardo gets his long legs in Rehn’s way, and Sweden have an early chance from a central set-piece. The distance does not favour the shooter, though, but Magnusson nevertheless gives it a go, as he smashes his 35 yard effort straight into the defensive wall of players. Magnusson had been one of the better players in the Sweden line-up in their shock 6-0 defeat against Denmark two evenings earlier, and here he was directly up against Benfica team mate Ricardo Gomes at the heart of the Brazilian defence. However, Ricardo was the libero, and so the player supposedly more often in direct combat with the Swedish forwards was André Cruz, the young man who looked to have an exciting future. Clashes were neither frequent nor of particularly rough nature, so the match was initially played in an atmosphere of peace and quiet. The low number of people in the ground only contributed to the feeling of holiday football.
‘Home’ team penalty?
Just after eight minutes, the Swedes want a penalty when R Nilsson has won the ball back inside the Brazilian penalty area following some sloppy play by André Cruz, who had initially weathered off an Ingesson initiative. As the Swedish captain on the occasion, for the first time in his international career, Nilsson was looking to deliever a cross, but before being able to do so, he appeared to be brought down by a somewhat clumsy Branco challenge near the byline. The Gothenburg player went to ground in need of treatment, but the referee never deemed the offence illegal. Play would carry on after some half-hearted Swedish cries for a spot kick.
Fouling of Branco
Brazil were often looking to engage Branco along their left. This seemed to be something that Sweden were very aware of, and so there was always at least one player closing the attacking full-back down. On most occasions, the one backtracking would be Limpar, whose defensive capability was perhaps not best described as ‘top notch’. Limpar would during the course of the game commit a series of fouls against Branco, who would eventually become frustrated with the treatment that he was exposed to.
Brazil’s early formational switch
As early as around the ten minute mark, there appears to be a change in Brazilian formation. There was little doubt that they had set out in 4-5-1, with Careca II featuring wide left in midfield, but having seen the home side carve out the first reasonable opportunity as Rehn forced his way into the penalty area to lay the ball on for striker Hellström to have a pop (his right-foot effort went disappointingly wide to the left of Acácio’s goal, though), boss Lazaroni must have told Careca II to shift into a forward position. Yes, he had already shown glimpses of some dubious positional sense, also straying into more central areas early on, but beyond ten minutes he clearly settles into a more permanent central role, more or less alongside the equally young Charles. Brazil had been 4-4-2 from kick-off against Portugal in their recent outing, so it is not as if they were new to this formation, but why the change had come about as early as this was baffling. Brazil would continue without a designated left-sided midfielder, with full-back Branco more than capable of working the entire left hand side on his own, contributing in attack just as much as he was defending.
The opening period reaches its halfway stage without either goalkeeper breaking sweat. Brazil are very meticulous in their build-ups, and they have to make up a lot of ground before even coming close to reaching the Swedish penalty area. Football is at times pedestrian. People could be forgiven for expressing yawns in the sparsely populated Idrætsparken stands. The persistent fouling of Brazil left-back Branco is the most prominent feature so far: Before 25 minutes has passed, the Porto defender will have gone to ground on no less than four occasions, and the referee had been right to award the Brazilian a free-kick on each and every occasion. Limpar’s ability to defend accorind to the laws of the game was quickly coming into question.
Poor Charles movement
Up front, Careca II was trying to move about, soon seen to the right, soon to the left. Charles, however, who had seemed so willing against the Portuguese on home soil in Rio, almost cut a beleaguered figure, seemingly not interested to make any kind of runs off the ball.
This left him predominantly isolated up front, although Bernardo, on a rare foray into the Swedish half, did attempt to play him through once. On that occasion, though, Rehn functioned impeccably as the defensive alibi in the Swedish midfield, cutting the pass out and prodding it back to his so far untested ‘keeper Ravelli.
Sweden’s forward pair grew in understanding
The Swedes take a much quicker, more direct route towards goal, and at times they seek to involve the head of big forward Magnusson, who’s famous for his strong aerial play. Although Magnusson is mainly challenged in the air by André Cruz, he’s also seen coming up against his club side team mate Ricardo on a couple of occasions, and impressively, the Brazil captain wins challenges both in the air and along the ground against the tall man. Running off the Sweden number 11 is the more nimble Hellström, who is a type of forward looking to get in behind the defence. The tandem does not work perfectly early on, though they are showing signs of improvement in their understanding with the progress of the half. Hellström had snapped at that earlier opportunity to finish after Rehn had worked his way into the box, but until the midway point in the first half he had been more or less invisible. As his nerves were vanishing and his confidence grew, this seemed to change, as he was becoming a willing customer in making runs off the ball.
The opening goal almost comes out of the blue, as neither side had so far been able to penetrate with purpose. Sweden’s wish to put the ball into the penalty area paid off, though, as Limpar’s diagonal ball from a rather deep position was aimed towards Magnusson’s head. Again, the forward had failed to win in the air against Ricardo, but the Brazilian stopper had only managed to get his head to the ball and guide it into the path of Ingesson, who in turn had made another run into the heart of the Brazilian defence. Ingesson did not manage to control the ball, though, and it slipped into the path of right-back Paulo Roberto, who decided that booting the ball anywhere would have to do. The problem was only that he could not make a clean connection, and his clearance travelled sideways inside the area, where the alert Rehn was on hand to guide the ball into a more or less empty net.
Perhaps this could wake the boys in the famous yellow jerseys from their slumber? Or was what they had shown so far all that they were capable of? The latter seemed unlikely, given how they had been able to tear Portugal apart with a large portion of the same players still present here in Denmark.
Brazil move forward
Moments after 1-0, Sweden have a bit of defending to do, as Brazil seek to find a way back into the game. Again, it is Limpar behind a foul inside his own half as he has tracked Edu in a central position and brought him down. Limpar realizes his own defensive shortcomings, though pleads his innocence towards the referee, perhaps more in frustration than anything else. From the ensuing free-kick 35 yards away from Ravelli’s goal, Branco will direct Brazil’s first shot on target, making the ‘keeper work with his effort from the outside of his left boot. Though there had been no great danger with Ravelli not being able to hold on to the initial effort, as Charles had been unable to smell the invitation quickly enough, the eccentric goal tender claimed the ball at the second attempt. And prior to releasing the ball, he would, as always, demonstrate his trademark feature moving it 360 degrees around his own frame. What lay behind this? It seemed as though he was incapable of letting be; he would always shift the ball around his torso thus before resuming action.
Careca II header
Were Brazil finally coming to life, spurred on by the Swedish opening goal? Their willing trio of players along the right hand corridor had been mentioned: Right-back Paulo Roberto would instigate an attack, picking out Valdo ahead of him with a short pass. Valdo would feed Silas just inside him to the left, and in turn the Sporting midfield man would free Paulo Roberto with a cute pass down the right hand touchline. Sweden left-back Schiller had been too focused on Valdo to spot the Brazil #2’s run in behind him, something which had left the attacking full-back with acres of space to deliever his cross. The ball in was not bad either, forcing Ravelli to come for it. However, the ‘keeper could only punch thin air as the ball evaded him, and it fell onto the head of Careca II on the edge of the six yard area by the far post. Perhaps disturbed by Ravelli’s attempt to punch clear, the forward was never able to direct his header goalwards. It had been a fine build-up, and perhaps had the designated away team finally decided to come to life.
More on the Brazil forward two
There is indeed a fine ten minute spell of possession for Brazil following the opening goal, but they do struggle to create any clear cut opportunities. Their best way to make inroads is through their triumvirate along the right, and perhaps are Schiller’s alledged defensive shortcomings evident as Brazil will get into a couple of fine crossing opportunities from his side: Both Paulo Roberto and Valdo will deliever balls into the penalty area from the right. Not that there’s a lot causing Ravelli a high level of worry, as Charles continues to appear subdued. Careca II, though, with his rolled down socks, continue to move about, yet he never appears a great threat, and the Swedish central defenders are dealing capably with both the Brazilian strikers. Ljung is the more composed of the two; the taller Lönn stronger in combat. There’s an odd moment when Valdo puts a cross in from the right, as Careca II seems to be in a good position to direct a header towards goal, momentarily unmarked by the Swedish defence. However, the gangly, erratic forward contrives to head the ball in the opposite direction! It had not been as if he had wanted to lay the ball on with his head for an onrushing midfielder to prod goalwards; he clearly miscued his effort so badly it went the wrong way. The Brazilian huffing and puffing had resulted in little.
Before the sound of the half-time whistle, there’s a couple of incidents involving Edu. The Brazilian inside left midfielder has continued to play in this position, despite left winger Careca II’s shifting into a forward position after the opening ten minutes. Edu’s yet another Brazilian of good size, and he’s strong on the ball, clearly favouring his left foot.
Edu’s continued presence as something of an inside left has kept the even taller, slender Bernardo in the defensive midfield role, and from there the Brazil number 6 has continued giving a good account of himself, just like he had against Portugal, covering a lot of ground with his spider-like legs. Edu had been pushing somewhat higher up in the pitch towards the end of the half, and from a 43 minute cross by Valdo from the right, he appeared to be in a good position to bring the ball down on his chest inside the area. Inexplicably, he reached out his right arm and got whistled off for handball. The act had seemed unmotivated, as he was not under great pressure from R Nilsson, the Swedish player nearest to him. A minute later he burst into the penalty area and appeared to have won a corner off Rehn, who had tracked him back, yet the referee ended up giving a goal kick for Ravelli, something which had mystified not only Edu, who had picked the ball up to prepare for a left wing flag kick, but also other players from both teams. The Danish referee blew for half time shortly after.
There had been one booking during the first half: Brazil forward Charles had been slow in retracting the necessary ten yards with Sweden awarded a free-kick six minutes from half time.
With the pace of the game rather laboured during the first half, it was not as if the half time break had been hugely in demand by either crop of players. It had been a first half relatively void of goalmouth action, though through their greater conviction it was perhaps fair that Sweden were ahead. Their more direct approach was perhaps something which the brunt of the home based Brazilian players were not used to, though when the ‘visitors’ had decided to up the tempo after going behind, it was they who managed to stamp their mark on the game.
Sweden’s half-time substitution
There had been one change in the Swedish eleven; two in the Brazilian. Sweden boss Nordin had replaced left-back Schiller with Nylén-Larsson, a player well capable of performing in several roles. Perhaps the substitute was most known for his contribution from either midfield flank. Here, he slotted directly into the left-back spot, behind Malmö team mate J Nilsson.
Schiller had struggled in his positioning whenever the Brazilians had wished to engage more than two people in attacks along their right, and so his defensive frailties were perhaps showing. Brazil had been able to come to a number of crosses from Schiller’s side. Could this change with another player in the left-back berth?
Brazil make two changes at the interval
Brazil boss Lazaroni had replaced two players during the half-time break: Out went midfield man Edu and striker Charles; on had come Geovani and Cristóvão respectively. For the second half, the Brazil 4-4-2 became of a different shape, perhaps laying on to Brazilian traditions of old, when they had best been described in a 4-2-2-2 formation under Telê Santana for the 1982 World Cup. Bernardo, who had been in the anchor role during the opening 45, and performed well, was now part of a midfield two with the newly arrived Geovani, a player who thrived in possession, and who would always be seeking to build from the back. This had been part of Bernardo’s first half duties, and so the tall number 6 would seem somewhat surplus with the arrival of Geovani. In fact, Bernardo would struggle in his second half positioning, clearly feeling more awkward in this new formation. Geovani appeared confident, always wanting the ball in or around the centre circle. As for Silas and Valdo, they would now clad the flanks, with both willing to interchange. However, ordinarily it was Valdo still along the right, with Silas moving across to the left from his inside right first half berth.
Sweden increase their advantage
Sweden front duo of Magnusson and Hellström brought the second half to life through their kick-off. Only three minutes in, Limpar, who had been the cause of so many Brazilian free-kicks during the first half with his fouling of Edu and, in particular, Branco, had already fouled Careca II halfway inside his own half, with Valdo playing the ensuing set-piece straight into the hands of Ravelli, but now he was held back by Ricardo Gomes inside the Brazilian half.
The ‘away’ skipper had another moment of sloppiness as he clipped the heels of Hellström inside his own area following Limpar’s low free-kick forward: penalty! Ricardo’s tackle on Hellström had not been vicious, but the striker had gone to the ground, and the referee had had enough reason to sound his whistle. Centre-back Ljung fired the penalty high into the left of goal: 2-0!
The question following this quick second half goal by Sweden was how Brazil would respond. Surely, they had never thought they’d be two goals behind early in the second half against a side which had been beaten so comprehensively only two days earlier. Brazil continued in the same way as the second half had begun: With them in possession. It had been a poor penalty to concede, but it was not as if it had rocked their belief. If there was one thing Brazilian players never appeared to be short of, it was self-confidence. They would continue to look for Geovani inside the centre circle, for him to spread passes either in the direction of Valdo or Silas, or towards the front two. Among their forwards, substitute Cristóvão was running towards the right of centre, with Careca II continuing in his somewhat more left-sided role. The way Charles had disappointed during the first half, Cristóvão had seemed a step up, as he was a more willing runner. There was a further option up front for the team in yellow and sky blue now.
Sweden striker Hellström was 29 years old, but he had come relatively late into the national team picture at the age of 26. Since making his debut in 1986, he had hardly been a regular feature, with this being his fifth cap. He had yet to open his goal account at international level. Here, though, after a modest opening to the game, he had seemed to grow in confidence, and it had been his turn inside the area which had led to Ricardo bringing him down for the penalty. He was seeking to exploit space in behind the Brazilian defence, and was a much more direct kind of striker than his front partner Magnusson.
Seven minutes into the second half he’s bent on making it into the Brazilian penalty area, though having made it past the sometimes nonchalant André Cruz out by the left hand channel, he would face one opponent too many when Bernardo came in to cut off his path to goal. Hellström could not be faulted for his initiative, though.
Sweden with their tails up
The tactics changes in the Brazilian team had hardly had the desired effect as the first quarter of an hour of the second half was approaching. In fact, it was Sweden by now dictating play; their players were more familiar with tactics and formations. Some of the Brazilian players were left dumbfound by the look of things, and their central midfield, now left for Bernardo and Geovani to handle, had clearly got weaker since the changes. Valdo and Silas were trying to be the creative outlet that Brazil needed, but so far in the second half they’d had little impact on proceedings. The Swedish players are with bags full of confidence, and the tricky J Nilsson demonstrates this just inside the Brazilian half when he flicks the ball on to Ingesson with the aid of his heel. This will in fact instigate an attack from which Sweden could have moved further ahead, as Rehn will spot Ingesson on another deep run into the penalty area to the right. The tall midfielder got to the ball before Acácio, taking it beyond him, though his momentum carried him all the way to the byline before he managed to put the ball back into the area. There it fell to Limpar on the far post, but by now the Brazil ‘keeper had recovered, and under pressure from André Cruz, Limpar could not keep the ball in play as it trickled across the goal line. Brazil would need to regain their composure.
Brazil finally arriving at a big opportunity
In the first half, the Swedish left-back position had come under scrutiny, with Schiller apparently struggling to cope against Brazilian pressure. Nylén-Larsson had during the opening 15 minutes of the second half not come under any kind of pressure until Silas decided to make an attempt to reach the byline, but backtracking, the Sweden substitute managed to block the ball away for a corner kick (though, somehow, the referee would end up giving a goal kick, even if it had been Nylén-Larsson’s touch which had seen the ball cross the goal line). Less than a minute after, Brazil substitute Cristóvão, operating as a striker trying to exploit the space between left central-defender Ljung and left-back Nylén-Larsson, played his forward partner Careca II clean through on goal. However, the second half arrival for the ‘hosts’ had not been at fault, as it had been an uncharacteristic mistake from Ljung, a misplaced pass inside his own half, which had fed Cristóvão the ball in the first place. Careca II’s finish one on one with Ravelli was wastefully placed into the side netting. It was a typical finish from a striker short on confidence.
As the clock’s approaching an hour of play, it is finally time for the referee to dish out a booking for Sweden’s right flank man Limpar. He had felled both Branco and Edu on a number of occasions during the opening 45 minutes, and though he had approached his opponents with a greater level of care in the second half, this his second foul on the Brazil full-back since half-time made sure Mr Lund-Sørensen produced the yellow card. It was the number of fouls rather than this one being particularly nasty which saw him booked.
Almost a third for Sweden
This part of the game’s riddled with little fouls, making sure parts of the second half are more or less a stop-start affair. Whatever’s happening as far as quality is concerned comes from the Swedish, as Brazil appear to be lost for ideas on how to break down this Sweden defence. It is not that the all blues appear so solid; it is more a case of Brazil being poor. The introduction of Geovani in midfield’s hardly lifted them, and Bernardo’s had a dreadful first 20 minutes, even spraying a couple of balls across the touchline when attempting to find Branco. Even Valdo, who had possibly been their best player going forward before half-time, has been sloppy, needlessly seen losing the ball across the touchline when in possession. As for the Swedish, they keep their banks of four disciplined, leaving little space for the Brazilians to exploit. Their front two work well as first line of defence, giving chase whenever the Brazil defenders are in possession. On 65 minutes, Sweden come close to increasing their lead, when Ingesson makes it to the byline in the right hand corridor, passing Branco with some ease. His angled ball back out in the direction of J Nilsson on the edge of the area’s perfect for the wide left man, who is able to have a go with his favoured left foot. He’d taken a touch to steady himself, and then he struck the ball with venom, unfortunately not being able to angle it away from Acácio, who had come a few yards off his goalline to decrease the angle. The ‘keeper was only able to make the save, the ball spinning away to safety towards Paulo Roberto’s right back position.
Both sides with further substitutions
The tall, burly Magnusson had perhaps so far not been a direct goal threat himself, but he was a big presence, making a nuisance of himself, even dropping back inside the centre circle, attempting to spread balls right and left at times. It beggared belief that this team had lost by six only two days earlier, and one feared for the well-being of the Brazilians, with their global support, ahead of the match billed as the tournament ‘final’ two days in the wake of this tie. There may be no mathematics about football, but surely, Denmark, having been so superior to their neighbours on Wednesday, would be able to break down this Brazilian side. Magnusson was relieved of his duties 24 minutes into the second half, and on came fellow forward Gren. The latest substitute was capable of playing both up front and along the right hand side, though he would appear to be a straight swap for Magnusson. Brazil simultaneously took the abysmal Careca II off for Gérson, a like for like forward switch.
Three minutes on, Lazaroni brings on young midfielder Bismarck for Silas, who had created an opportunity for himself five minutes into the second half as he had lofted the ball over Ljung inside the Swedish penalty area before firing a weak effort straight into the arms of Ravelli.
The ‘visitors’ edging a bit closer
Brazil are in desperate need of a spark. This is a poor showing so far, as they’ve hardly put Ravelli to the test at all so far in the game. However, shortly after the introduction of Bismarck, who will continue in Silas’ position as one of two attacking midfielders, Geovani is able to advance a few yards ball at feet, and he’ll spread a fine pass out for fellow substitute Gérson to the right of the area. The latter’s cross finds Geovani again, and the midfielder’s arrived at the edge of the area, able to fire a first time shot on goal from which Ravelli has to punch the ball up into the air. Not a convincing save, but no Brazilian player is alert to the rebound, which the ‘keeper can soon claim. Gérson is again in the thick of the action a minute later, as he’s been played in by another fine Valdo cross, but under pressure from Ljung he can only direct his effort well wide of the upright. The toothlessness that they’ve shown so far is only being emphasized.
Just as Brazil seem to have used all the tools in their shed, they resort to one of their former success recipes: There’s some fine combination play between Valdo and Paulo Roberto along the right, and the former can get to the byline behind Nylén-Larsson and deliever a cross to the far post, where half-time substitute Cristóvão comes flying in to head home behind Ravelli.
The ‘keeper had not been able to move quickly enough from the near post and across to the far post for the header, and though the header did not carry an awful lot of power, it was particularly difficult to keep out as it had been directed into the ground. The deficit had been halved, and there was still well over ten minutes left for play.
The final few minutes
The match will continue until two minutes and 40 seconds of time added on, though precious little will happen after the Brazilian goal. For a few minutes in the wake of Cristóvão’s consolation goal, Brazil seem to give it a go, but it is soon evident that it is all half-hearted: Geovani in midfield’s unwilling, or worse yet: unable, to make runs from the deep to support either of the front two, and Valdo’s gone hiding along the right. The most recent acquisition, Bismarck, has hardly had a touch, and the dominant Swedish central-defenders are keeping Gérson and the goalscorer at an arm’s length. With the match into injury time, it is the Swedes who are operating with the higher level of conviction, and though they are content to keep the ball among themselves, they will produce one final effort right on the stroke of full time when the lively Hellström plays Limpar through the centre, only for the wide man to make a meal of his attempted left-foot lob, which goes straight into the arms of Acácio, who, contrary to Limpar’s belief, had never left the goalline. A fairly average game comes to an end with a deserved win for Sweden.
With Brazil a bit of an unknown quantity in Europe, Sweden knew they had to avoid conceding early to drop in confidence levels again, having been so resoundingly beaten only two days earlier. They keep it solid at the back, and soon realizing that Brazil do not have an awful lot to offer, they will gradually grow into the game, and indeed go ahead through skillful midfielder Rehn just after the halfway point of the first half. The second half sees Sweden increase their lead from the spot early on, and despite the Brazilians making a number of changes in personnel, they rarely pose serious threats to a relatively disciplined Swedish outfit. Only substitute Cristóvão’s headed consolation goal leaves Ravelli beaten, and prior to that there had been opportunities down the other end for the Swedish to enhance their lead, most notably through tricky wide man J Nilsson. Eventually, Brazil give up. They do not manage to push Sweden right to the death, and Mr Nordin’s lot can see the game out quite comfortably in the end.
1 T Ravelli 6.8
2 R Nilsson 6.9
3 P Lönn 6.8
kept things simple, strong in the challenge
4 R Ljung 7.0
5 D Schiller 6.6
(14 N Larsson 6.8
reinvigorated the Swedish left hand side of defence in the final 45; less risky in his play than his predecessor)
6 A Limpar 7.0
showed a lot of tenacity, though kept fouling constantly. Some visionary passes into the right hand channel
7 K Ingesson 6.9
8 S Rehn 7.2
showed technique and composure, kept on to the ball when Sweden were in need of breathers. Committed, and also did a sound job defensively, as well as stealing in to open the scoring
9 J Nilsson 7.1
as technically gifted as companion Rehn, and made use of his trickeries down the left wing, giving Paulo Roberto a few worries
10 J Hellström 7.0
full of running, though drifted out of the game at times
11 M Magnusson 6.7
clearly wishes to make an impression right from the start, but is not always successful, and is seen losing out to both Brazilian centre-halfs in the air. Plus for dynamism
(16 Gren -)
1 Acácio 6.8
not at fault for either goal
2 Paulo Roberto 6.9
willing going forward, less reliable defensively, struggled with J Nilsson at times
3 André Cruz 6.7
4 Ricardo Gomes 6.7
not a bad game, but involved in both Swedish goals
5 Branco 7.0
6 Bernardo 6.8
good first half, less impressive in the final 45
7 Valdo 7.1
8 Silas 6.4
(15 Bismarck -)
9 Charles 6.3
succeeded with very little, and did not show a great deal of initiative. Stationary
(13 Cristóvão 6.8
on the move, and headed home on the far post, but too often outnumbered)
10 Edu Manga 6.6
thrived on the ball, but movement ahead of him let him down. Not much useful with Sweden in possession
(14 Geovani 6.4)
11 Careca II 6.3
one does wonder about his tactical and positional awareness, and is at best untidy when in possession. Disappointingly wasteful when played through in the second half
(16 Gérson -)